Historic trust takes aim at Charity Hospital
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Activists and historians rejoiced Tuesday as New Orleans Charity Hospital and the adjacent neighborhood were placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the nation’s 11 most endangered historic places. “While listing doesn’t guarantee total protection,” said Walter Gallas, director of the trust’s New Orleans field office, “it has at times spurred rethinking of plans, raised awareness and funding, and galvanized a community to succeed in saving an important place in history.”
Charity flooded during Hurricane Katrina and has been closed since the August 2005 storm. It has been earmarked for demolition by the LSU medical system. LSU is planning a new medical complex and a new veterans hospital also will be built in the area. As part of the project, the city plans to bulldoze the houses and building in a 25-block area around the new medical buildings.
Preservationists hope Tuesday’s action will be the first step in preventing demolition of the 1 million-square-foot hospital and other structures. But the action does not block LSU’s plan to tear down the Depression-era hospital that was once the primary source of health care for the city’s poor.
“The future of the Charity Hospital building looks bleak unless we all support independent efforts to seriously evaluate its structural condition and its potential for continued medical uses,” Gallas said.
Published in The Messenger 5.21.08